I’ve mentioned that Minecrift (Minecraft on the Oculus Rift) is amazing, right? I’m pretty sure I have. Well, if there’s one thing that makes it even more immersive, it’s adding positional tracking with the Razer Hydra.
What does the positional tracking do? Simple – it lets Minecrift track the position, as well as the rotation, of your head. Lean to the side, and not only will your view change, but your point of view will actually move. Crouch, and your POV will go lower. Stand on tip-toes, and you can look over things. Etc.
This simple change makes a massive difference to how real the world feels – and for many people, it also reduces motion sickness.
Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a pig to get going – but I’ve done the testing, and I’ve got what I think is the best way to do it.
I’ll explain the way to get things going, and then I’ll write a few notes on why we’re doing it this way!
Part 1: Velcro
You’ll need some double-sided velcro tape for this. You can get that from most hardware stores, or alternatively from Amazon.com.
Note that you want the type of tape with velcro on both sides – the hooks on one side and the wool-like stuff on the other. You don’t want the type with adhesive on one side!
You’ll find that the hook side attaches quite well to the Rift’s head strap. Attach a piece about a foot long like so:
Part 2: Basic Config
Make sure your Razer Hydra is plugged in, and that you can easily reach both of the controllers without having to look – important when you have the Rift on.
Start up Minecrift, put your Rift on, and go through calibration. Then, go to the menu, choose “VR Settings”, then choose “Head Position Tracking…”.
You’ll see the following screen – click on “Neck Model” to switch to Hydra tracking:
Part 3: Attaching The Hydra
Now, click on the Position box, and click through until you see “HMD: Top”:
Now, pick up each of your Hydra controllers in turn, and move them around. The one that makes the menu move in and out, up and down, etc, is your positional tracking hydra.
Reach up, and put it so that the side of the thick end of the Hydra is resting on the top of your Rift, with the “tail” of the Hydra controller pointing along the head strap. Then, wrap the velcro tape around it as tight as possible, to secure it in place.
Here’s a picture of how the whole thing should end up looking:
(Note to self: shave before taking demonstration pics!)
Part 4: Tweaking
Sit up to your normal sitting position (or standing position if you’re going to play Minecrift standing) and hit “reset origin”.
Everything should now work. Try leaning forward, or to the left or the right, and watch how accurately the menu follows your movements. Pretty freaky, huh?
You can now load up a Minecraft world and explore, with full head tracking.
One tweak you may want to enable – try playing with the Dist. Scale. Personally, I find that the tracking “feels” best with this turned right up to maximum – the 1-1 tracking feels “muddy”, whilst with it set to 1.2, the integration feels much tighter.
Either way, enjoy your now-fully-tracked trip around the world of Minecraft, and remember to lean round corners to spot Creepers!
Why I did it this way
Most people attach their Hydra with duct tape – but that way lies a sticky Rift and pain getting the bloody thing off again. I’ve tried that with several demos, and it makes the Hydra sufficiently annoying that after a while you can’t be bothered to re-attach it. Attaching a small velcro strip as we do here makes everything much cleaner and easier, and doesn’t interfere with non-Hydra demos.
The trick with the Hydra and Minecrift is getting the correct balance between comfort and accurate positional tracking.
For best results, the hydra has to be as immobile as possible and as close to the Rift as possible. Hair, skull muscles and other issues mean that the further away from the Rift you place the Hydra, the more likely it is that the way the Rift is moving and the way the Hydra moves won’t be the same. In addition, without something solid to anchor it to, the Hydra tends to slip.
However, if you attach the Hydra to the side of the Rift, it makes the Rift heavier. When I’ve tested that, I’ve found it moves the focal point slightly, and can also mean that the Rift digs into your nose.
This is the best compromise I’ve come up with – and it works extremely well. Give it a go!
Got any more tips for Hydra-enabled Rifting? Let me know in the comments!